Stop Engaging the Mobile Mom. Start Engaging the Social Family

Stop Engaging the Mobile Mom. Start Engaging the Social Family

I spent last week at the Marketing to Moms conference in Chicago. The agenda covered expected topics. How technology affects family time. How to reach the “mobile mom.” What her mood and mindset looks like throughout a day. And case studies. Lots of case studies. Overall, it’s a good conference. Great content. Great connections.

Truth be told, though, I think a lot of strategic and creative discussions around “reaching mom” or “reaching dad” miss the point. Those kind of campaigns are about more than a channel choice. About more than how your social effort is seeded with the right influencers. About more than allocating enough budget to a specific platform.

It’s about a fundamental shift in attitude. Because, increasingly, saying something to moms says something to dads. And vice versa.

At M2Moms, I spoke about dads’ rising engagement and influence. This seems to fly in the face of the cultural conversation, as the recession has had an outsized impact on men and Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men” sits on shelves and Kindle queues.

But the truth is that men are talking about fatherhood and family in a way we’ve not previously seen. Gender definitions are broader. Communication to both parents clatters and converses its way across the social Web.

Here are five questions brands and agencies should ask as they create campaigns that engage or portray parents. Consider it a starting point to help avoid turning off the audience you’re trying to attract.

  1. WWHD? Television historically has set the cultural perception when it comes to parenthood. And one of the strongest images of Dad is Homer Simpson, the bumbling, uninvolved  — yet lovable — oaf. It’s an outmoded stereotype. Dad feels increasingly confident and capable in and around the house and with his kids. So when portraying families, ask, “What would Homer do?” Then, do the exact opposite of that.
  2. Are you acting like parenting issues only affect Mom? Breast-feeding is a maternal concern. Feeding children is a parenting issue. Don’t act like any and all household decisions are only the responsibility of one parent.
  3. Are you talking to Moms while excluding Dads? There are brand and business reasons to select an audience. But don’t erect a fence around your brand and act like one parent isn’t welcome.
  4. Are you holding Dads to the same standards as Moms? It’s fair to say that the cultural expectations on Dads are lower than those on Moms. Don’t treat baseline parental competence from dads — feeding, dressing, bathing — like a miracle or the sign of an “awesome” dad. It comes across as condescending.
  5. How does your brand fit in a family’s life? We’re thinking more about brands as hero-makers, not heroes. How does your brand fit within a family life in a real, honest and emotional way that lets mom or dad be a hero to their kids, or to each other?

One of the other things that struck me was the lack of data around Dad’s mindset. Watch this space as we start to develop insights that probe deeper into the idea of social families.

In the meantime, here’s an infographic from that highlights dad’s growing social voice and presence.